October is when the garden comes together. Trees burst into leaf, apple blossom scent pervades the air, my tree peony is in gorgeous flower and the kookas squawk hysterically if I walk anywhere near where they’re nesting.
Some rain would be nice but luckily the garden is holding up thanks to the cool weather.
It will be a different story when the mercury starts to climb but meanwhile I’m enjoying the present, which is just as well, spring being the gardener’s busiest time of year.
It’s astonishing how weeds proliferate even in droughts and I’m desperate to get on top of them before they set seed.
When I’m pushed for time I hand weed under shrubs and trees and spray the ground in between.
I’m a total fan of Organic Crop Protectants’ wonderful plant-oil based product slasher.
It works on contact and desiccates weeds (also moss, algae and lichen) overnight right down to the roots. Available from garden centres as concentrate or ready-mixed in pump action sprayers.
Slasher is non-selective, hence my suggestion to weed near your treasures by hand, but having in the past used a selective weed killer that killed only grasses I’m no longer convinced of its effectiveness.
Admittedly I no longer have grass in my borders, but the end result was merely to give broad leaf weeds more space to germinate.
I certainly have just as many weeds.
One slightly surprising one is an ornamental onion with burgundy flowers, known as drumstick allium or A. sphaerocephalum.
This bulb flowers prettily and harmlessly for a couple of years and then becomes a nightmare, producing dozens, no hundreds, of seedlings but no flowers.
I think I’ve dug it all out, but I’m standing by with slasher just in case.
Like the dreaded red and green flowered Parrot Lily (Alstroemeria psittacina) this is definitely one to avoid.
Mulch is the best weed suppressant of all, but needs replenishing regularly as it breaks down.
Last autumn’s cuttings of silvery Artemisia, Lavender and Curry Plant (Helichrysum) should be big enough to plant out now and are great gap fillers.
Climbing ornamental grape, Clematis montana and large flowered hybrid Clematis need tying to their supports as their shoots lengthen.
If you grow camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons, feed them in October as their flowers fade and new growth starts.
Chrysanthemums can be split and replanted to flower next autumn, but be sure to keep them watered for the next few weeks.
Summer flowering bulbs like gladdies can be planted in October, but I’m holding back to see how the season develops.
This summer I might have to settle for a green thought in a green shade, and save every drop of water for the trees.
Heads-up: Gardens at Billenbah and Burnside, Euroley together with four town gardens in Narrandera are open October 28, 9am to 5.30pm. $15 includes admission to all gardens, map and Devonshire Tea. Light lunch at Billenbah on the Bidgee, $15. Proceeds to Can Assist. Details: phone 0428 597655.